Online Bible Commentary
All is Possible for the Christian
1 Timothy 2:8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control. (NKJV)
The letter of 1 Timothy is part of what is known as the Pastoral Epistles. The other two Pastoral Epistles are 2 Timothy and Titus.
The Apostle Paul wrote this letter about AD 63 to Timothy who was ministering at the church in Ephesus. It is believed that this was Paul’s first, of four, letters using a new scribe (an amanuensis), Luke (2 Timothy 4:11).
It is believed by this writer that Paul wrote this letter from Philippi, in Macedonia (1 Timothy1:3). Other possible places of writing are Spain or Hierapolis.
This letter is a personal letter from one minister to another. Ministers typically relate differently to other ministers than they would to others. Therefore, this letter is different than Paul’s previous letters to churches.
It is also different in that Luke’s style of writing is more classical Greek than that of previous amanuensis’. Luke had more and more influence on Paul’s writings, especially his last two, 2 Timothy and Hebrews.
During the time of his last two letters Paul was living in squalid conditions at Mamertine Prison in Rome. We believe that he needed to rely more heavily on Luke because of Paul’s terrible living conditions at the time.
At the time of this writing, Timothy was trying to resolve some problems in the church at Ephesus. The problems consisted of false teaching running rampant, in Ephesus especially. This letter was sent to restore worship order in the churches, specifically addressing the problems of which Paul had heard.
In the preceding passage, Paul wrote of the objects of prayer, that prayer should be for all people and all needs, not just a few select people in the church. Now, in this passage, he addresses the proper demeanor for prayer, and worship in general, first addressing men, then women.
He is addressing specific problems present in the church at that time. However, his teachings, as always, are the timeless teachings of Christ and therefore are useful for us today.
Paul begins this passage by writing “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands” (v. 8a). Paul had heard of disputes between men in the church, angry arguments, and general discord, likely having to do with the false teachings.
Here, he calls for the men to come to the Lord in prayer with clean hands, “holy hands”. Raised hands, open to God in prayer was a symbol for clean hands, free of sin.
Continuing, Paul writes “without wrath and doubting” (v. 8b). This would signify that the men had made amends with their enemies.
Next, Paul turns to the women and writes “in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing” (v. 9). He counsels the women to act and dress properly and in moderation.
Paul then defines properly. He writes “but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works” (v. 10).
The women should act and dress in godliness for the purpose of good works, and not to be noticed. They were not to call attention to themselves, but instead to focus on doing good works, which would be appropriate behavior for women in prayer and worship.
Paul later wrote regarding these young widows “For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry (1 Timothy 5:11). So, there was a question of impropriety in the church regarding the dress and behavior of some of the women, especially the young widows.
Paul continues, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission” (v. 11). Apparently, the women had fallen prey to the false teachers, and were spreading these false teachings throughout the church through gossip and other means.
Later in this letter, Paul wrote “some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). He followed that up with “some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan” (1 Timothy 5:15), in speaking of young widows in the church.
Next, Paul writes “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence” (v. 12). The literal Greek translation for verse twelve is: “A woman but to teach not I allow, not to exercise authority of a man, but to be in silence”.
The word “authority” has the meaning of domination. The meaning is that women should not be domineering over men, which included teaching men in the church. Paul then gives reasons for this statement, by reverting to the Genesis account.
He writes “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (v. 13). Adam was formed first, then Eve from his rib. Man was first, the head.
Additionally, Paul writes “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (v. 14). Eve was deceived by the serpent, not Adam. “The woman said ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ “ (Genesis 3:13).
This relationship between men and women is from the Lord. Christ is the head of the church. The church is the “bride” (i.e. the woman).
Therefore, the man is the head of the woman. Christ gave his life for the church. Man gives his life for the woman.
It is a relationship of equality, but voluntary, and mutual, submissiveness in roles. Christ is equal, in the Godhead, to the Father, but Christ made Himself submissive to the Father. The Bible teaches this same relationship for the roles of women and men, both inside and outside the church.
Paul continues this passage by writing “Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing” (v. 15a). The reference to “childbearing” is a reference in general to the “good work” in verse eleven. It does not mean that a childless woman cannot be saved.
Paul concludes by writing “if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control” (v. 15b). The Greek root word “ei” translated “if” can also be translated “since”, which is the better translation for this sentence.
So, they are saved “since” they are Christians. Paul is saying that the good works and salvation, comes from first being a Christian.
This teaching, although controversial today, is no different than any other teaching from the Bible. Paul, and Christianity in general, uplifted women from their roles as second-class citizens.
Obeying this, or any teaching of the Bible, is not possible without first being a Christian. But all is possible for the Christian, the follower of Christ.